Pete Dye’s final design for Kohler clears another hurdle in Wisconsin; Arizona’s Wigwam renovates its bunkers on the Red course; Scotland’s Gleneagles tweaks the King’s course ahead of the Senior Open
The latest news and notes in golf course architecture.
> Following the announcement in January 2022 that Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw would design a fourth layout for Streamsong Resort — an 18-hole short course — the course's name, The Chain, was revealed in late June.
Hewn from land that was once used for phosphate ore mining, The Chain was named for the remnants of a piece of mining equipment that was used to hold a dragline bucket in place. The piece was discovered on site during the routing process.
The new course will measure approximately 3,000 yards, with holes ranging from 90 to 275 yards and will feature flexible 6- and 12-hole loops. The six-hole loop is designed for all levels, with no hole longer than 148 yards. The 12-hole loop embraces more challenge as it unfolds across old mining cuts and along the banks of Little Payne Creek. Chain links will mark the teeing grounds front and back, but traditional tee markers and any sort of par for each hole will be absent. In addition to The Chain, Coore and Crenshaw will craft a sprawling two-acre putting course called The Bucket, which will be double the size of the existing Gauntlet putting course at Streamsong Black.
"Ben and I have wonderful memories of working with our talented associates and the Mosiac Company to create Streamsong Red, and we appreciate the opportunity to return to one of America’s most sought-out golfing destinations," Coore said. "Routed on a highly interesting site, The Chain will feature a variety of holes laid upon a landscape of parkland, live oaks, sand and lakes. Although diminutive in size, we believe The Chain, when combined with the anything-but-diminutive Bucket putting course, has the potential to complement, perhaps even enhance, Streamsong’s reputation for must-be-experienced golf.”
> A long-delayed new course project along Lake Michigan for the Kohler Company is back on track. Designed by then 88-year-old Pete Dye in 2014, the new course was slated to unfold across a 247-acre, Kohler-owned piece of property along the lake, which would feature four holes at water’s edge.
Located near the town of Wilson, adjacent to Kohler-Andrae State Park, the proposed design has been tied up in legal challenges since then. In late June, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held in a 4-3 decision that the Friends of the Black River Forest can’t challenge the Department of Natural Resources policy board’s 2018 decision that resulted in a land swap, giving Kohler Co. 4.6 park acres and a 1.8-acre easement in exchange for about 10 acres of land west of the park. Kohler received property that featured dense woods, sand dunes and wetlands. There are several other legal potholes to negotiate, including obtaining wetlands permits, but the Kohler brass is optimistic.
“We look forward to developing our public golf course in the City of Sheboygan on property owned by Kohler Co. for more than 75 years,” said Dirk Willis, vice president, golf, landscape and retail for Kohler Co. Hospitality. “We are committed to creating a world-class golf course that respects the property’s natural character and opens up private land to the public for the first time. Kohler has an established track record of good environmental stewardship with a commitment to following all applicable municipal, state and federal regulations.”
> The venerable Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Arizona, will undergo a four-month bunker enhancement project this summer on its Red Course. The project will begin on July 5 and will focus on refreshing all 44 fairway and greenside bunkers. Pro Turf International, in collaboration with The Wigwam’s ownership group JDM Partners, are handling the work, which is expected to be completed by October. With work taking place during the slower summer months, the Red Course will remain open for play.
As part of the Red Course bunker enhancement project, all bunkers will be excavated and rebuilt incorporating a technically advanced drainage and liner system featuring Capillary Concrete. This new generation lining method increases the speed at which water flows through the bunker, minimizing washouts, reducing maintenance and producing superior playability. In addition, tan sand will be replaced with new, higher-quality white sand in all bunkers.
The Wigwam’s Red Course, originally called the West Course when it opened in 1974, was renamed in the late 1980s in honor of the club’s head professional of 42 years, V.O. “Red” Allen and the course’s architect, Robert “Red” Lawrence. Robert Trent Jones designed the other two courses at The Wigwam, the Gold and the Blue, in the mid-1960s.
> The iconic Gleneagles Hotel in the Scottish Highlands has renovated back tees at five holes on its King’s course, ahead of its hosting the Senior Open Championship, July 21-24. James Braid designed the King’s in 1924 and the course underwent a successful restoration in 2016. The current work focused on adding length, challenge and better views of the greens.
A new back tee on the par-4 seventh hole, built behind the sixth green, stretches the yardage from 444 to 468. It also alters the angle of the tee shot, creating a sharper dogleg, which makes it tougher to cut the corner. At the 178-yard, par-3 eighth, Gleneagles extended the tee and moved it further left to reveal the right side of the green. The drivable par-4 14th has bumped its back tee yardage from 309 to 341, while at the petite, 158-yard, par-3 16th, the back tee has been lowered and shifted to the left to provide a view of the entire green.
Additional changes ahead of the tournament include the introduction of closely mown surfaces around the greens and fairway bunkers, which helps to better incorporate the site’s natural contours into the playing experience.
“Gleneagles’ reputation as a sporting estate has flourished for a century, with golf and the King’s course at the very heart of that rich history,” said Conor O’Leary, managing director of Gleneagles. “While our modern classic, the PGA Centenary course designed by Jack Nicklaus, has hosted iconic Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup matches, we are so proud to welcome legends of the game to the King’s, where golf started at Gleneagles all those years ago. The sympathetic course changes we have made recognize the way the modern game has evolved, but still retain the King’s numerous strategic challenges that have made this timeless classic so revered the world over.”